There was huge interest in telemedicine before 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic made it a reality, triggering unprecedented disruption in the industry. For example, digital-focused healthcare aggregators had been testing telemedicine programs but, since 2020, demand for telehealth services has exploded worldwide. Despite stabilizing forces such as the deployment of vaccines, the use of telehealth remains 38 times higher than it was in the years before the pandemic (1). Health and wellness apps are proliferating in the mobile ecosystem, allowing consumers to consult medical experts from anywhere on any issue. A growing trend is the emergence of digital products as a way to track patient data from wearable devices and make real-time treatment recommendations.
The new normal has created opportunities as well as risks for pharmaceutical companies. Telemedicine certainly offers patients a way to continue to benefit from health services without going to the clinic. Nevertheless, there is a downward trend in the consumption of prescription drugs due to lower expenditure, in addition to increased generic competition and the increase in pharmaceutical fraud and counterfeiting which lead to consumer mistrust (2).
Digital Edge for the Pharmaceutical Industry
To stay on a healthy growth trajectory, pharmaceutical companies need to look for new ways to stay relevant and drive substantial efficiencies in their supply chains, range of services, and patient engagement. The application of digital technologies in pharmaceuticals – digital products – is a promising avenue.
Digiceutics refers to the use of digital technologies to improve patient care through the use of mobile applications, wellness assessments and trackers to monitor the impact of medications on physiology. In today’s era, these services are almost as important as actual medications in improving patient outcomes. The increasing penetration of smartphones, mobile applications and innovative partnerships between the pharmaceutical industry and technologies makes digitalization a key avenue for growth. While the global digital health market is expected to reach US$295.4 billion by 2028, the digital health services segment alone has captured the largest share of revenue in 2020 (3). Adoption of the digiceutical product line will help pharmaceutical companies move beyond being mere providers of disease-curing drugs. It presents a ripe opportunity to reposition themselves as healthcare providers through the combination of digital technologies and digital healthcare services apart from the delivery of pharmaceuticals.
Role of Big Data and Analytics
Implementing a digiteutic approach requires a combination of strong medical expertise with robust data management and advanced analytics, where big data and augmented analytics play a key role.
Most pharmaceutical companies have vast stores of patient data, medical records, insurance claims, prescription data, and more. When combined with data from health devices, wearables, and mobile apps, it gives them access to live streaming data on patient status, medication impact, and treatment progress. This data can be mined for real-time insights that benefit all stakeholders in the healthcare ecosystem through advanced analytics solutions. For example, dashboards that visualize insights from member data will be able to examine patient symptoms, enabling early diagnosis, encouraging preventative treatments and improving quality of life.
Digiceuticals leverages modern technologies such as data analytics, AI, blockchain, and machine learning to help pharmaceutical companies amplify revenue streams, reduce costs, and improve treatment outcomes . For example, it can accelerate the pace of drug development by automating research and enabling informed data discovery (4). Blockchain also finds application in this area by protecting intellectual property and ensuring transparency and authenticity (5). Other use cases include drug personalization by creating targeted medicines at lower cost using genomic data and patient health records. Life science companies that focus on medical devices can use IoT to track device health and provide timely maintenance, thereby reducing risk (4).
Payers will be able to better understand the specialty and popular drug market and develop better pricing and market access approaches. Insurers will be able to tailor premiums based on actual patient behavior and well-being, thereby incentivizing positive health outcomes. Healthcare providers will be able to track adherence, adjust medications, preemptively diagnose conditions, and streamline access to care through digital and mobile channels. Finally, patients will be able to access care on time, get the correct information and information in self-service, make informed decisions about treatment choices, quickly seek second opinions, get test results faster and, in the together, benefit from a better quality of care. life (6).
Pharmaceutical companies are under pressure to demonstrate whether their drugs are effective, which is essential to remain relevant. Thus, the expansion of digital health services will help them monitor patients’ symptoms and progress, which will benefit both healthcare providers and patients. Additionally, with the information freely available today, plan participants can carefully assess who they are engaging with, especially when it comes to their health. Promoting such engagement through smart digital products is the critical next step for pharmaceutical companies to be profitable and successful.
About Subhro Mallik
Subhro Mallik is Senior Vice President and Head of the Life Sciences Business Unit at Infosys, where he leads a team of customer partners and sales executives to grow Infosys’ business with existing and new customers. He brings a wealth of experience growing new businesses, building teams and ensuring profitable growth.
In his previous role, Subhro was Assistant Vice President and Head of Life Sciences, Americas. He also managed client relationships for one of the largest life science clients for Infosys (a top 5 Pharma). This account today offers IT, BPO and consulting services spanning the US, Europe and Asia. Subhro was a founding member and member of the unit leadership team for Infosys’ Infrastructure Services (IMS) business unit. He led the conceptualization of service offerings and go-to-market strategy for IMS.
3. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/digital-health-market-size-worth-295-4-billion-by-2028–cagr-15-1-grand-view-research-inc- 301487217.html
4. https://www.polestarllp.com/analytics-in-pharmaceutical-companies#:~:text=Big%20data%20analytics%20in%20pharma%20can%20help%20pharmaceutical%20businesses%20to,past%20clinical%20trial %20events%20data
5. https://www.biospectrumasia.com/analysis/25/20238/5-transformative-merits-of-blockchain-in-pharma-.html#:~:text=Pharma%20giants%20like%20Pfizer%2C% 20Amgen,and%20reduce%20the%20development%20of%20drugs%20costs.